More than 30,000 tribal members in Iraq have come forward to work with U.S. and Iraqi forces over the past six months, a phenomenon that is spreading beyond Anbar province to Baghdad and other regions of the country, according to U.S. commanders.
The Iraqi government, at the urging of U.S. authorities, this month ordered Iraqi army and police units to integrate the volunteers into their operations. “That is huge. This gives them the approval that we are looking for,” said Brig. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy commander of the U.S. military in Baghdad.
However, questions remain over whether alliances with fractious tribal sheiks will hold, whether they can improve security in mixed-sectarian areas such as Diyala province and Baghdad, and whether they will promote stability and national reconciliation or spur Iraq’s fragmentation by proliferating armed groups. [complete article]